EMMA LEWELL-BUCK: Government’s treatment of disabled people is disgraceful

I know we are all struggling through this pandemic, but the struggle has been much harder for those who are in the clinically extremely vulnerable group, who are housebound or have disabilities.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey.Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey.

Some people have been shielding since March last year, that’s nearly a whole 12 months without leaving their home, being able to enjoy walks or do their own shopping. The things many of us take for granted and look forward to in these long days.

Just recently Scope reported that disabled people are being ‘cut off’ from the support they need to stay safe, ignored by the government, councils, supermarkets and social care. They also highlighted that younger disabled people, who may have to wait until the later stages of the vaccine roll out are becoming increasingly anxious as too how much longer they will be trapped in this situation.

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Other charities have reported high levels of deteriorating mental health with limited access to their GPs or mental health support services. A recent survey from the Disability Benefits Consortium found that 82% of respondents said their living costs had increased throughout the pandemic and over 40% reported falling behind on rent, mortgage payments and bills. Most shockingly over 60% said they had gone hungry and without medication. That is why I have written to the Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions and why I am supporting the Consortium in their call for the Chancellor to apply the uplift that was given to universal credit claimants to all legacy benefits.

This Government track record on supporting people with disabilities and the most vulnerable even before the pandemic was subject to repeated international criticism from the United Nations. It is disgraceful that they have continued this treatment throughout these awful times. I will continue to do all I can in Parliament to press for change and please if you live in South Shields and are struggling contact me and my team on 0191 4271240, we have been here for you throughout this pandemic and we will continue to do all we can to help. I don’t want anyone to feel isolated and alone.